Sunday, February 3, 2008

Ephrata

The Ephrata Cloister, was a radical 18th-century religious group, and the Cloister is historically preserved in the Northern Lancaster town of Ephrata.

Ephrata Cloister at 632 W. Main St., is one of the earliest communal societies in America. Occupying a group of medieval-style buildings, the community of religious celibates practiced a rigid lifestyle, stressing spiritual rather than material goals. The Cloister was an early center for publishing and printing. Ten of the original buildings have been historically preserved to recreate the atmosphere of that era.

The town of Ephrata has a number of factory outlets. The Green Dragon Auction Market offers almost everything from live animals to to hardware at its indoor and outdoor stands. The market at 955 N. State St. also has food, crafts and auctions with more than 400 merchants participating. It's open every Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

In October, Ephrata Cloister has an Apple Dumpling Festival and the Ephrata Performing Arts Center has a theatrical production at its Playhouse in the Park on Cocalico Street. November brings a Christmas market, Christmas antiques at Stoudburg Antique Mall and more performances at the Playhouse in the Park. Ephrata Cloister features Christmas at the Cloister and Christmas lantern tours.